A while back I wrote a post about Blyton’s mothers and then I had a sudden thought – what about Blyton’s fathers? Given that it’s Father’s Day this Sunday, it seemed like a good time to write about them.
Her own father – Thomas Blyton – was an important figure in Blyton’s early life. He fostered her love of nature and gardening as well as music and literature, and she was devastated when he left her mother and therefore the family when she was 12.
Divorce and fathers leaving is not a topic featured in her books but there are plenty of fathers of different kinds to discuss. They take on very different roles to the mothers, though. While the mothers are generally at home providing the meals, the fathers are out at work and only home evenings and weekends.
THE TYPICALLY CROSS AND CROCHETY
Quentin Kirrin aka Uncle Quentin (The Famous Five)
Father to George and uncle to Julian, Dick and Anne, has one of the worst tempers amongst Blyton’s fathers. He works from home as a scientist and during school holidays is often found stomping, roaring and slamming doors as the slightest sound sets him off. He’s also very absent-minded and often fails to see what’s right in front of him.
He’s not all bad, though, he genuinely cares for his wife and daughter and can be very kind too.
Quentin gets angry at a table being overturned with a crash (Five on a Treasure Island)
and again at a box being thrown from a window (also Five on a Treasure Island)
almost falling over Timmy (Five Get Into Trouble)
and falling over the children (Five Go to Billycock Hill)
Richard Lynton (The Barney Mysteries)
While Quentin’s temper is short and sharp, Mr Lynton (father of Dinah and Roger, and uncle to Snubby) seems to have a constant simmering rage going. The children are only home for school holidays, and yet he is heard asking how long do these holidays last? By the second day of the holidays in the Rilloby Fair Mystery he has been impatient, irritable, snappy and has stormed out of the room by breakfast time.
He has no patience for children’s noise and games, even though he must be out at work a lot of the time. Dinah calls him mouldy on at least one occasion, and while Snubby is terribly annoying, Mr Lynton’s grumpy, moaning face is probably worse as he is a grown-up and should cope better. He does redeem himself slightly when he warmly welcomes Barney into his house.
THE BOLD ADVENTURERS
Bill Cunningham aka Bill Smugs (The Adventure Series)
When we first meet Bill, he’s not actually a father. He’s a secret agent who befriends the Mannering and Trent children as part of his cover. He becomes an honorary father-figure to them, Philip and Dinah having lost their father and Jack and Lucy-Ann having lost both parents. He drops by to visit them when they are on holiday, he takes them off on holidays (which turn into adventures) too. He is interested in their interests and well-being and handles their squabbles easily. By the end of the series he becomes their father for real, when he marries Mrs Mannering/Aunt Allie.
Captain Arnold (The Secret Series)
Captain Arnold is an odd one. On the surface he seems like a good type of father to have. He’s clever, kind and sensible about raising children who stand on their own two feet. He and his wife take in Jack, who has no family of his own, after he helps the Arnold children, Nora, Mike and Peggy, escape from their abusive aunt and uncle. Unfortunately though being a pioneering aviator he’s rather too likely to disappear in a place crash, in fact it happens twice within a five book series. Having entirely misjudged the children’s guardians in the first book it turned into a double horrendous situation for his children. At least he left them with a decent adult the second time, but it seems foolish to abandon your children twice! The children end up going to rescue him the second time, and it’s his smarts that helps them all escape, but it was his bravado and foolishness that got them into that situation.
THE WORK DRIVEN
Mr Longfield and Mr Longfield (The Six Cousins)
Peter Longfield is a farmer with three children, Jack, Jane and Susan. David, his brother, also has three children, Cyril, Melisande and Roderick, but he works in the city. Peter has raised adventurous out-doorsy children who are mostly likeable, though they can been untidy, impetuous and taciturn. David, not helped by his weak and over-dramatic wife has raised somewhat spoiled, vain children. David’s neat city life is ruined when his uninsured house burns down, and needing to support his family he buys a farm near his brother’s. He works very hard (as does Peter), and recognises that his children have improved from their time at their uncle’s farm, becoming more down-to-earth and sensible.
Mr Rivers (Malory Towers)
Mr Rivers has two daughters, Darrell and Felicity. While he can be exasperated by waiting in the car for them (and his wife) to finally be ready to leave, he is far more genial and good-tempered than, say, Mr Lynton. He works very hard as he is a surgeon, and probably isn’t home an awful lot but he seems to have a very good relationship with his daughters. He strikes me as a firm, sensible father, but also one who values his family and enjoys spending time with them.
Mr Brown (Mr Galliano’s Circus)
Mr Brown has an unusual job – he is a handyman for a circus. Known as Brownie to the circus folk he runs around fixing benches, building cages and whatever else needs done. He has lost his more regular job at the start of the first book so when the circus job comes up he and his family give up their plain little house and move into a caravan to travel with the circus. Although being the ‘man of the house’ and the breadwinner, and a 1950s man to boot, he consults with his wife and their son Jimmy, and they are happy to go with him.